How to Safely Trap and Release Groundhogs, Possums, and Other Native Animals
Not All Critters Are Bad
Possums are the only marsupial in the United States. A mother possum carries up to 13 babies in her pouch.
This informative video I made will tell you more about our friend, the possum. It depicts a mother that I caught and released with her babies. Learn some interesting facts about this misunderstood critter!
Have a Heart and Relocate Those Troublesome Critters
If you love to garden and have been frustrated by all the critters that simply think your home is an "all you can eat buffet," then you should do what I did and purchase a nice Havahart trap to capture and relocate them.
The nice thing about these traps is they are not meant to harm the animals and are quite easy to use. Since I have had problems with groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, in the past, I decided to take the trap out one more time this year.
If you have problems with any small critters in your yard—possums, raccoons, squirrels, groundhogs or others—this article and my video will show you how easy it is to capture and relocate them so you can enjoy your garden again.
Things You Will Need:
- *Havahart trap, size depends on what you are looking to trap.
- Carrots or other food they are attracted to.
- A lace to relocate your critters. It should be far enough away that they won't find their way back to your home.
*I noticed in my local Home Depot they carry a few sizes of the trap. I used the Model 1079, which is large enough for most small animals as you can see in my photos and video.
Now you will need to find a spot where you know they seem to come from. I found them coming and going next to my tool shed where they have easy access to my neighbor's yards and mine.
Once you have the spot, you will be able to set the trap and leave it. Note I have covered the trap with stuff to make it seem more natural. I keep my empty flower pots here, so I used them to make the trap blend in.
Different Animals Like Different Food . . . So Try a Few Different Things
I have used string beans, carrots (which seem to be very popular), peanut butter, zucchini, and other veggies. They all seem to work fine. They also sell food for these animals so you can buy some and use that as well. We already know that our groundhogs love the sunflower seeds in the bird food I feed my birds.
Note: If you are trapping groundhogs, check back every few hours to see if the door on the trap is shut.
Groundhogs will eat all day. In one day we caught one early in the day, relocated him and then caught a second one later that afternoon. Possums are nocturnal and will only forage for food at night, so leave the trap and check it in the morning.
You May Have to Clean the Trap Before Relocating Your Animal
I noticed the groundhogs all had to eliminate their solid waste when in the trap. Might be from nerves or they simply have to go after they eat. I took the trap to my grass and hosed it clean making sure not to get the water on the groundhogs. Once the trap was clean, I put some newspapers on the back of my SUV and put the cage in and we were on our way. I also covered the cage with a large towel to keep them quiet.
Buying the Right Trap:
Check the Havahart website to see the model number and size you need and either purchase it directly from them, or go to Home Depot or the internet and buy one.
Friendly Traps and Photos
Keep Them Calm When Relocating
Catching and Releasing a Groundhog
The Final Step: Relocate Your Critter To a New and Safe Home
I am lucky because I live in New Jersey. We still have plenty of parks, woods, and farmland, which makes relocation relatively simple. Of course, that is probably why we have these critters. I am sure if I lived in an urban area the varmints would be the ones you would want to eliminate and not relocate. For the sake of this article, we are talking about native rural wildlife, not urban pests.
I have relocated my critters in a gorgeous county park; that is full of nature, beautiful creatures, and then, of course, all the people that come to enjoy our parks. Unfortunately, I discovered that this was against the law in my state and had to find other areas to relocate my animals.
You may want to check with your local health department or park department to make sure it is OK to relocate your critter before you do as I did.
- Take workman or heavy gloves with you on your release of the critters. Safety is critical and you don't want to deal with a bite or bad scratch from one of your animal friends.
- Wild animals are not pets, so handle them with extreme care. Remember, that a possum may look like he is injured or even dead, but that is what they do when they are scared, don't attempt to handle them yourself.
- Be careful during the release by simply opening the trap and waiting for them to leave, or help them by tilting the trap.
What type of garden critters do you have?
What is the most difficult garden critter or critters in your garden? You can vote more than once.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.